DEI Vocabulary

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DEI Vocabulary

There are a variety of definitions out there for common terms regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion. Here is a vocabulary list that Vail Valley Partnership uses.

Work in the DEI space is about addition – what are you adding that is going to make your organization stronger and more inclusive. Find out what your team’s pain point are and start with open dialog and connection. Everyone in the organization should get brought along with understanding, not agreement.


Diversity refers to traits and characteristics that make people unique. In its simplest form diversity is about our differences and the variety of features among us.


Inclusion is created based on behaviors and social norms that ensure people feel welcome.

Think about the difference in these 2 statements: I am glad you are here. I am glad we are here. The second statement is inviting and inclusive.


Bias is a tendency to believe that some people, ideas, etc., are better than others that usually results in treating some people unfairly.

From a DEI standpoint, it is important to remember that everyone has biases and you should be aware of what yours are because it may cause you to treat others differently.


Equality is about sameness, level-setting, and providing access. In short it is giving everyone the same thing.


Equity is about meeting people where they are. It is creating systems where everyone can thrive. People don’t get the same things, they get what they need.

From a business standpoint, equity means investing in those your serve.


An advocate is a person who actively works to end intolerance, educate others, and support social equity for a marginalized group.


An ally is a person who supports and respects members of a community different than their own.

Systemic Racism

Systemic racism is a reference to the systems in place that create and maintain racial inequality

White Privilege

White privilege is the societal privilege that benefits white people over non-white people in some societies, particularly if they are otherwise under the same social, political, or economic circumstances.

White Fragility

White fragility is the discomfort and defensiveness on the part of a white person when confronted by information about racial inequality and injustice.


LGBTQ+ is a shorthand or umbrella terms for all folks who have a non-normative (or queer) gender or sexuality. LGBTQ is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer and/or Questioning.

For a more complete list of LGBTQ+ terms click here.



Gender Pronouns

Pronouns are used in language all the time when we refer to ourselves or other people.  If someone has gender pronouns next to their profile name, they’re simply informing you on how to refer to them. By doing this, it allows others not to make assumptions about one’s gender

Examples of pronouns you might use refer to others are:

  • he/him/his (for someone who might identify as male)
  • she/her/hers (for someone who might identify as female)
  • they/them/their (for someone who might not identify strictly as male or female, these pronouns are considered ‘gender neutral’; also used when referring to multiple people)